Author ORCID Identifier


Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

Fall 2021


skill downgrading, immigrants, refugees, Germany, labor markets, wages, employment


Upon arrival to a new country, many immigrants face job downgrading, a phenomenon describing workers being in jobs below the ones they have based on the skills they possess. Moreover, in the presence of downgrading immigrants receiving lower wage returns to the same skills compared to natives. The level of downgrading could depend on the immigrant type and numerous other factors. This study examines the determinants of skill downgrading among two types of immigrants – refugees and economic immigrants – in the German labor markets between 1984 and 2018. We find that refugees downgrade more than economic immigrants, and this discrepancy between the two groups persists over time. We show that language skill improvements exert a strong influence on subsequent labor market outcomes of both groups.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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